20 YEARS LATER: The Hawaii Hall of Honor class of 1999

Former Punahou, UCLA and U.S. national team water polo player Brandon Brooks -- with his wife Jessica and daughters Charlotte and Chloe. Photo courtesy of Brandon Brooks.

One major leaguer with two World Series championship rings. One Olympic silver medalist in water polo. One University of Hawaii volleyball superstar.

St. Anthony baseball player Shane Victorino, Punahou water polo player Brandon Brooks and Kamehameha volleyball player Lily Kahumoku are just three of the 12 members selected to the 1999 Hawaii Hall of Honor.

It was 20 years ago now and a fine time to look back at that banner year for the Hall of Honor. The Class of 2019 will be inducted Sunday at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery.

The star power from ’99 didn’t stop at those three. The class also included ‘Iolani running back Joe Igber, who went on to big things at Cal.

There was also Punahou’s Eri Macdonald, a four-time state cross country champion who also won three individual state championships and two relay titles in track and field. She went on to a successful running career at Oregon, and her father Duncan Macdonald (a 1976 Olympian in the 5,000 meters) is still coaching the Buffanblu.

Two from the class of 1999 — Brooks and Maui’s Dana Arias — shared their recollections of that time.

But first, here’s the full Hall of Honor class of 1999:

>> Cord Anderson (‘Iolani/Hawaii Prep basketball, track, volleyball)
>> Brandon Brooks (Punahou basketball, football, track, water polo)
>> Kristopher Cuaresma-Primm (Mid-Pacific basketball, football, track)
>> Toniulevaiavea Fonoti (Kahuku basketball, football track)
>> Kyle Fukuchi (Mililani football, soccer, track, cross country)
>> Joe Igber (‘Iolani basketball, football, track)
>> Lily Kahumoku (volleyball, track)
>> Mi-Suk Lee (Konawaena basketball, softball, volleyball)
>> Eri Macdonald (Punahou cross country, track)
>> Dana Navarro-Arias (Maui football, track)
>> Joseph Siofele (basketball, football, track)
>> Shane Victorino (St. Anthony baseball, football, soccer, track)

Brooks didn’t make the banquet in 1999 because he was somewhere else — possibly Hungary — playing water polo.

“Unless I’ve been waterlogged over the years, I was not able to attend,” he said. “My parents went in my stead. I love the ring that they gave me and I’ve treasured that. It did mean a lot to be recognized that way, especially with peers that I really respect.”

A goalkeeper, Brooks went on to win silver with the U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also competed in the 2004 Games in Greece.

“My proudest moment was at my first Olympics in 2004,” he said. “The first game, getting to stand up there and hear them play the national anthem. That was an emotional moment for me, representing the USA, the country that I love, at the Olympics.

“And winning the silver medal was the culmination of a really long journey. I started playing water polo when I was 14 for Punahou. Fourteen years later, I had the honor of winning the silver medal.”

Brooks, who also played football (wide receiver and quarterback), track (high jump and other events) and basketball, is also super proud of the 1999 Buffanblu state championship basketball team that he was a part of.

“It had been quite some time (1990) since Punahou had won it, so that was pretty big,” he said.

Brooks knows or has met many of the others in his Hall of Honor class.

“I remember watching Lily play for Kamehameha and how she had such a big impact,” he said. “Joe (Igber), I played some basketball with. He was a great guy, a really nice guy. You have certain rivalries with people and then when you get to know them off the court, 95 percent of them are great people. He went on to play at Cal. His agility and speed at that time was very Barry Sanders-like.

“I remember doing track with Shane Victorino in the high jump and Cord Anderson and I were rivals and guarded each other in basketball. I played against Joe Siofele in basketball, and Eri went to Punahou.”

One reason Brooks remembers Macdonald is because of her gracefulness in grueling distance running.

“Eri was just a beautiful runner,” he said. “Running always hurt me. I did not like running. When she was on a relay team, it was like giving the ball to Kevin Durant. You know good things are going to happen. She always had a smile on her face and it seems like she had a great attitude. I have the utmost respect for the work she put in.”

Brooks was and still is friends with Cuarsema-Primm.

“We played basketball with and against each other,” Brooks said. “We really got to know each other and he also did the high jump with me. We competed against each other for two or three years. My sophomore year, we were about the same level, both jumping aroud 6-0, 6-1. Then Kris found it junior year. He was jumping 6-5 and 6-8 and I think even 6-10. I was like, ‘Holy mackerel.’ “My PR was 6-3 or 6-4.

“I ran into Kris in L.A. years ago and we actually lived in the same complex. He’s a great guy with a great sense of humor.”

These days, the 38-year-old Brooks — who ended a long stint as the UCLA women’s water polo coach in 2017 — is a protein distributor of steaks, chicken, lamb and other items. He recently played in a national tournament for his club water polo team and was the second oldest player competing.

“My goals are different in athletics now — get the heart rate up, have a good time and don’t get injured.”

He lives in Costa Mesa in Orange County, south of L.A. with his wife Jessica and two daughters, Charlotte and Chloe.

Brooks also thought it was a cool experience seeing other members of the Hall of Honor’s other classes, former decathlon champion Bryan Clay from Castle and volleyball star Lindsey Berg from Punahou when he was competing at the Olympics.

Victorino, who won the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and the Boston Red Sox in 2013, can’t believe how long it’s been since attending the Hall of Honor banquet in ’99.

“It’s been 20 years, kind of amazing how fast time goes,” he said. “From back in 1999 to where we are today. It was definitely one of my lasting memories of high school.”

Victorino was also a speedster in track and added football and soccer to his high school resume. He finished his major-league career with a .275 batting average, 108 home runs and 489 RBIs.

Another Maui boy, Dana Arias (he changed his legal last name from Navarro-Arias; his middle name is now Navarro; and the hyphen has been dropped) was part of the class of ’99.

For the Maui High Sabers, Arias set the state-meet mark of 38.10 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles. That record held up until Kamehameha’s Tanner Moku (38.07) broke it this spring.

“I loved being there,” said Arias about watching Moku break his record May 4 at the state meet on Maui. “I loved watching it. I’m glad it’s becoming a strong event in Hawaii again and I’m glad these guys are loving to hurdle. Hurdling is not the one thing people usually choose when going into the sport. It’s usually because they want to run long or run fast. I was neither when I started.

“I was screaming for him (Moku) to go. He’s young and can go and smash his own record. I was glad they had one great day to run (trials). And I saw (Baldwin’s) Rey Cadiz break the 110 hurdles (14.19) record.”

Arias — who also did the relays for the Sabers along with sprints and the long jump — remembers thinking about Victorino as a rival and a hothead.

“It was a love-hate thing,” he said. “We used to train together for track. It looked like he had a bad, hot-headed attitude. I wanted to kick his ass on and off the field. But I was totally wrong about how I had seen him. When I got to know him, I realized his hot-headedness was not toward anybody. It’s to himself. He’s the hardest person on himself. That’s what got him to everything he’s done in his career. He was looking like one crazy man, a competitor, a fighter, but he was being hard on himself, pushing hard.

“I know he is a real giver, too. He has his own Boys and Girls Club thing over in Philadelphia. When he first got into the majors, he came home and came by to the field one day and he dropped a bag of bats, baseballs, gloves and whatever. All the kids could come over and grab whatever they wanted.”

Arias played quarterback and free safety for the Maui High football team. He went to Oregon State as a preferred walk-on, but due to some miscommunication he didn’t qualify that first year with the NCAA clearinghouse.

“I had no guidance and nobody was really giving me the correct information about getting into college,” he said. “I had no idea what the NCAA clearinghouse was. None of my coaches informed me about anything. I remember learning about it in the summer. Shane hadn’t committed to pro baseball yet and was committed to play baseball at UH at the time. We were together and Ron Lee (University of Hawaii assistant) came to talk to us. That’s when he told me about it and I looked it up and found that I was late on all the paperwork.

“My mom went out of her way to go to my school (Maui High) and she did it first because she was pissed. But after that, they made classes for students to actually learn that part of it (qualifying for college) because of my situation. She made a big stink at the beginning, but her barking made stuff happen.”

Arias, who is a full-time musician, ended up going to a junior college, where he competed a bit in track before eventually coming home to Maui for various reasons.

He recalls being at the Hall of Honor banquet in ’99.

“I was among crazy, crazy talented people,” he said. “Toniu Fonoti was right next to me. I was talking to him and asking him questions and thinking, ‘This guy is going to Nebraska! I was tripping out. Joe Igber was going to Cal. Joe Siofele was going to Arizona. Shane was going to the pros in a few weeks. Brandon was going to UCLA.

“I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if I belong in this league, but it’s cool.’ It was a high-class dinner with the salad first. I was loving that situation, taking in the moment. It was a nice night. Now kind of a blur.

Arias runs into Victorino and Siofele, the former All-State linebacker and defensive player of the year with the Crusaders who is now living on Maui, around town.

“When I came back from not finishing college, I walked right into music,” Arias said. “Started recording and had my first single by 20. Have made a bunch of CDs solo and with groups.”

Nowadays, it’s about the Hawaiian music for Arias, who is native Hawaiian, but he started out more with the reggae sound.

“Just today, I released an album (Kahalawai) with my group (Kahalawai),” he said earlier this week. “I’m an athlete first and a musician second. I approach music like an athlete, full of fire, full force, 100 percent, put your head down and go. That’s how I approach everything in life.”

Kahalawai, the album, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and Google Play, according to the 38-year-old Arias, who is a guitarist, bassist and ukulele player. Kalahawai, the group, was formed along with friend Joshua Kahula.

Many of his other work can be found under his stage name (Piilani Arias) on Mele.com.

“I’m proud of a solo album from some years ago — Dash-A,” he said. “To date, I’m most proud of this (Kahalawai) album.

“For a long time, I was nervous about Hawaiian music because I didn’t speak the language fluently and didn’t want to get into it and not do it correctly. But we put our heads down and went for it. We’ve learned what we need to learn and got in touch with people who have done beautiful Hawaiian songs. I take pride in spreading our culture to the world, playing our culture, and we’re proud that we did it our way. We did it correctly for the kupuna and the kumu and for the people of Hawaii. I hope that good comes out of it.”

Arias is married to Tiana and they have four kids — Taylor, 17, McKenzie, 7, Dash, 6, and Taj, 2.

Others in the Hall of Honor class of 1999 who went on to compete in college are Anderson (Santa Clara basketball), Cuaresma-Primm (Cal football), and Fukuchi (Washington soccer).

Kahumoku was a two-time first-team All-American during her illustrious Rainbow Wahine career. She is still among the all-time school leaders in kills, kills per game, digs and digs per game.

Igber is fourth in Cal career rushing yards with 3,124.


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